View Full Version : [4e]Nifflas: A Setting where Librarians mean business

2008-10-01, 01:25 PM
Welcome to Nifflas
“What’s in a name you ask? Everything.”

Nifflas is a 4th edition setting created by Mostly_Ghostly, a member of the Wizards of the Coast community who is seeking constructive input and criticisms concerning his still-under-construction work. To that end, I have been given permission to bring the setting information to this community, with hopes our intrepid homebrewers might have a crack at it.

The original Wizards and RPGnet thread can be found below

Nifflas: A 4th Edition Setting where Librarians mean business - Version 1.1, WotC (http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1029448)
Nifflas: A 4th Edition Setting where Librarians mean business, RPGnet (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=394002)

Thank you for your interest and input
-Job (Kord’s Boon)

Note: Minor changes have been made for clarity, and to comport with posting guidelines. Spoiler blocks contain large images.

Nifflas Version 1.1


I've had a lot of weird ideas fermenting in my head for a while, plus 4th Edition is coming out, so a while ago, I decided to make a brand new setting. This is the updated version of that setting, including nearly everything that's been discussed on the first four pages of the thread after I submitted it the first time.

I really dislike reading and writing long, in-depth histories of worlds, both because they tend to be dull and because they give too much away, in my opinion. So, I wrote the setting mostly in the form of first-person narration, and tried to make it as open ended as possible without being overly vague. I also wanted to give adventuring a new twist - the adventurers will be Librarians, searching for stories and knowledge a la The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as well as exploring the World Tree Library and tracking down those who don't return their books.

I've gotten some great feedback so far, and more ideas to riff on are always welcome. Also, you are, of course free to steal, distort, and mangle what I've written in any way you please, so long as you don't make money off it.

The Islands


“Every object attracts every other object with a force that is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the separation between the two objects (Expect for big chunks of rock.)”

- Tonwen Sacai’s Law of Almost Universal Gravitation

“The world was given form by The Inebriated One. And lo, He was utterly sloshed, and did forget to stick it together properly. So yea all fell apart into lots of pieces and, in His Infinite Wisdom, He made the pieces float rather than clutter up His junk room floor, where He had stuck it. And Lo, He did chuck in junk from time to time, so that lots of bits and bobs of other worlds He had made did clutter its surface. In his name we drink. Cheers.”

- Libir Inebrius 6:19

"No-one quite knows why the world is the way it is. But the fact is, the Islands exist, and we're stuck with them."

A Guy We Met in a Bar


"No-one knows how many of the skerries there are (that's what we Dayers call the Outer Islands), but there's only one place that really matters. The Yebba Dim Day. It’s a vertical sort of place, the City. There isn’t much ground to build on, so people make their homes anywhere they can find. It’s not unusual to see a cluster of houses around the supporting columns of a trolley line, or to see shops and towers and temples all stacked on top of each other, making great towers of buildings that look like they're held together with nothing but spit and layer upon layer of paint. People build over and on and around other buildings, too, so there are layers and layers and layers to the everything. Sometimes, you’ll find a dusty old room at the center of a cluster of buildings, buried by the rooms in every direction.

There’s not a place in all of Nifflas like it. A great City that stretches across five islands, cobbled together from ruins and junk and scraps. Built, rebuilt, repaired, and endlessly patched up, a seething patchwork of layered architecture, buildings crowding and jostling for space. A thousand thousand call the city their home, a great tapestry of life sewn together from patches of every size and color imaginable. And moving through it all are the trollies, they’re it’s guts, it’s veins, connecting the five islands together and winding through the City’s most secret places. It’s a dangerous, insane, marvelous place. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be."

- Martin Forspythe

"Not much room in the Day, and there's only so far up you can build. So people have built down. There is another city. The Labyrinth honeycombs the depths of the five islands - uncountable miles of tunnels and chambers that have never been fully mapped. Honest folk live there, people who just aren't as fortunate. But it's a dangerous place, home to the desperate and the mad. There isn't much in the Labyrinth. In the depths, even sunlight is a commodity.”

- Niska Orpen, Sunlight Salesman


"It rises from the center of the Day, soaring high above the piles of buildings and ramshackle towers of the City. A tree, uncounted miles high, floating in the air at the center of the ring of islands. And inside... books. The tree is hollow, and filled with circular floors, joined by a great spiral staircase. Some of the floors are relatively normal: old wood, curtains, neat rows of shelves. Some are... less so. There are floors that have rolling fields for floorboards, or jungle. There is one floor on which the shelves are perched on tall pinnacles of rock, joined only by thin rope bridges. Sometimes the shelves themselves are so tall that scaling them to reach a high-up book is a feat demanding extensive equipment and several days time.

Then there are the books. They are of every shape and size, from bigger than a person to smaller than a postage stamp. And they are alive. Walking through the stacks, you can sometimes hear them whispering to each other in their rustling language. Particularly cantankerous ones will jump of the shelves and flap around, or even snap at you. They are organized, after a fashion, though no-one has quite been able to work out an overall scheme. One shelf might contain books that all contain some reference to bees, however obscure. Another might contain ones with exactly 376 pages. Needless to say, looking for a specific book is fruitless without the card catalogue. This precious resource is scattered throughout the floors, and it is the constant duty of the Librarians to seek out new indexing, to boldly search filing systems no man has searched before.

Most of the books in the Library are written by other people. Long lost authors sending their books out into the world from a time forgotten. But there is one book that is written by the people of the Islands. The Almanac. It is a chronicle, a guide, a story of the Islands as they are and as they have been in our memory. This is the Librarian's great work - we travel from Island to Island, seeing, writing, wondering, and occasionally helping out those who need our help, or collecting unreturned books from particularly unruly customers. Once a year, the Librarians who have been in the Skerries meet at the Library, at the Parliament of Rooks, and compile the knowledge they've gained and the stories they've told, and so the next edition of the Almanac is written. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it, and there's never a dull moment"

Fox Mechran, High Librarian


“Airships are made from Skywood, rare trees that float around the islands, absorbing moisture from the clouds, and eating passing birds. They keep their floating qualities after they’re cut, so rich folks build ships out of them. Skywood is rare, though, so the ships are valuable, and tend to carry a lot of cargo, so they’re always a target for pirates.

Some of the crazier tinkers have built mechanical flying machines from the junk, propelled by some sort of constant controlled explosion. Sounds mad to me - they’re faster than the fastest zeppelin by far, but I wouldn’t get in one for all the books in the Library

Balloons - that’s where it’s at. Usually made from hide, they’re every color you can imagine, and range from the biggest zeppelin to the smallest one-man basket. Some say they’re slow, that they’re clumsy, but they don’t understand. See the Floating City but once, and you’ll know what I mean.

People have all sorts of ways of getting around. Some can tame the beasts that fly the Islands, riding on the backs of birds, or whales, or flying pigs, even dragons and pterodactyls dinosaurs. The contraptions called planes are the most common flying machine cobbled together from the junk, but there are plenty of other, even madder ones. Some of the greater Sorcerers can even make themselves fly, sprouting wings or just glaring at the laws of physics until they slink away whimpering.”

- George Mistrath, Aeronaut


"Ever wonder how the Day got to be the only city worth speaking of on the Islands? Ever wonder where the bread we put on your table comes from? It's the mills, boy. Eh - Pass me tha' bottle. Good lad. Nifflas only stands because of 'em - they're the secret heart of the city. Some say the Library has the power - pah! Can't eat paper, lest yer a Tarrie-Cat. An yer no Tarrie-cat, though ye may look like one. Nifflas grew up around the mills, when the founders figured out how they work. Now listen here, an' I'll tell ye secrets ye must never forget.

The first grinds the bodies of the dead and spits out flour. The dustmen travel the streets and walk the labyrinth the add corpses to their carts, to feed the hungry masses.

The second eats names. Titles, ceremonials, given names. Depending on the worth o' the name, the mill will grind out produce: apples, oranges, lettuce, anything that might come out of the maw of a dragon. That's why the name trade sprung up, ye know - people selling their titles and even birth names to one another. That's why the nobles have so many damn names, and that's where the Nameless come from. Sorry souls who sold every name they had to pay for food.

An' then theres the third. Not a body knows what it does. It's sat on the fifth Isle since time out a mind. No-one's gone in, least ways if anyone did, they never came out again. But the mill turns, so it must be grinding something. Though what it is, and what it's making, no-one knows...

So there's the secret of the Day, boy. That's why the only currency here is a corpse or a name, an' what else gets sold is what don't come out of the mills - magic, services, machines, meat. There's other mills scattered around the islands. Sometimes they produce something useful and a settlement'll grow up around it. Most times not. No-one knows how to build the mills, though some fools say they do. Half the time, ye don't even know what a mill grinds. Ye have to figure it out by trial an' error, or search through the Library on the off-chance that you'll find a book about it. Anyway, there ye have it, and don't ferget it...pass me another bottle, eh.

Godric Antennae, Miller, Apparently attempting to join the Holy Order of the Inebriated Ones.


"Away from the Day, away from the safety of the mills, food is scarcer, and sometimes you can't afford to buy Dead-Bread. So a Junker has a few options. Sometimes the odd edible plant grows on the islands, but looking for them is always like trusting a sphinx - always a risky prospect. Seed and good earth are worth their weight in names out here, giving as they do a secure, reliable source of food.

In the caverns and dark parts of the Junkyards, mushrooms grow. They're pretty tasty when they're fried up right, but they don't give a body needs. For that, you need Dragon's Breath. This isn't common knowledge in the Day, but Dragons don't breath fire (I don't know how that old yarn got spread around), they breathe life. When you get a dragon angry enough, it'll breathe at you. If it gets you, you'll twist and change, mutate into something unspeakable. But a nice side effect is that in its wake it leaves trees that bear strange, but usually edible fruit, or makes new plants spring up from the ground. So, we get our dinner from angry dragons. Never a dull moment."

- Greth Oldwatch

"And yea, the Inebriated One did sometimes eat his lunch in the junk room, and rather than chucking them in the trash he did sweep the leftovers onto the forgotten remains of his world. And thus it is the task of his followers to seek out the Sweepings from the Divine Plate and eat of them, so that they might commune with our Lord.

And they shall be hidden amongst the junk. They shall peek out from between matresses and old doors, and they shall be good to eat. And thou shalt not suffer to live those not of His church, who attempt to poison the communion by consuming of his holy leftovers."

- Libir Inebrius 13:27-36


"Nifflas is a dream, a story in a book, real as leather and ink and paper and yet as intangible as dragonsong. They say our world is like a page in a book, and that magic folds the page, twists it and wrinkles it. So, you have to wonder... what happens in those creases and crinkles in the world? And what's written on the other pages?"

Godric Rustywatch's thoughts on the Book of Worlds


"What are stories? Think of it like this: reality is like a sheet of paper, and the sheet is what is Now, the little slice of time that is this moment. The world is concerned with what is, but stories are all what ifs and maybes and perhapses. They talk to the world, and remind it what it might be, what it has been, what could have come to pass, and doing that twists the sheet of paper, folds it into new shapes.

Now, stories are floating around all the time. People tell them to each other, people build up memories, people wonder and dream. But some folks have learned to focus them, to twist reality in a certain place by telling a certain story in a certain sort of way. Sometimes, for small twists, a little story made up on the spot and spoken is good enough. But for big twists, you need more power. You may need a name, which is a sort of story about the person it's attached to. Or a book - writing a story down distills it, focuses the power, and books have their own names - their titles. Of course, some stories are more powerful than others... and sometimes a story gets so big, so powerful, that it starts changing the book it's written in. The most powerful books can move, can change what's written on their pages, even speak in their own strange way. And there are other books, even more powerful than these... so powerful that just to read them wouldn't just fold the world... it would tear it. That's what the Unkindlies are for. To protect those books and the world.

Every story bends the sheet a little, but some have learned to use 'em to twist in the way they want (most of the time, anyway). That's all a mill really is, in its secret heart - a fold in the world, a crinkle that changes things that pass through it. Of course, like with anything, there are complications. If you're trying to get a certain effect, say, trying to power and airship or make a ball of fire, or open a door, you need a certain kind of story. And you need a different kind of story for each kind of twist, which is why so much of a Librarian's time is spent out in the Islands, looking for new stories.

But there's another way. There's a way to take the undistilled power in a story and use it for whatever fold you want. But if you use that way, it...eats the story, removes it from existance - no one remembers it, no-one knows it, like it was never made in the first place. So this is another duty of the Librarian. We must lend books out, for their power is needed throughout the Islands, but there are those who would destroy the stories for their own gain, who would abuse their Library card. And we must stop them."

Fox Mechran, Cheif Librarian, elucidating the Sheet of Paper model of Magic


“I Like the idea of the world being a page in a book, I mean I really do its great and wonderful and all, but time seems so extremely long that wouldn't it make more sense if a world were one book? Plus all those folds and creases and what not, who would read our story? You could hardly read one page if it had as many wrinkles it as it should with all the magic around. But if its spread out amongst the pages well then people might tolerate it a little better.

Either way, no matter which is right we all know for sure that the Great Wheel model is wrong. How could anything naturally shape itself into a wheel most of all somethings as large as the planes themselves. Could you imagine if two of these Plane-Wheels crashed into each other? It would be a disaster for both worlds. And obviously that has never happened before so how could that theory be right?”

- Salin's thesis on the Library of Worlds model of the Planes and Rebuttal against The Great Wheel Model

“We are all just a dream. A story that ain't been written down yet. Folk will try and tell 'eah that this world is already written and we only fold the pages 'ever so very slightly. But it just ain't true. Our fates ain't written for us anymore than that lullaby floatin' in your head right now. Now some will tell 'eah we are the dreams of a man. Some folk that comes from a land of wonder. I'll tell 'eah that ain't right either. This dream is bein' dreamed by a woman-folk. She might be a young one but her imagination is a great one to be sure.”

- Garduck, Dwarf-Smith on the Mid-Day road

"You mean to say you can't even understand the books?"

John Grottle's face wrinkled up under his crow-helmet; through the netting around the eyes, the Librarian could see disgust tinged with fear. "Blimey, no!", he said. "S'too dangerous. Who ever 'eard of such a thing -- an Unkindly that could *read*."

"I can read. Read my whole life."

Grottle's head bobbed in acknowledgment. "But you ain't read none of the good books, right? The ones wot it's illegal to make copies of. The Forbidden Books" He tapped his crow-helmet, making a metallic ping. "I mean copies in the 'ead."

"Aren't you even interested?" The Librarian's cheeks went pink, and he leaned forward. "By the Inebriate, man. You *kill* people over what they say."

Grottle paused. Shook his head. "Can't say as I've ever been much interested in what the books say. 'Sides, they used to use Unkindlies wot could read. Used to put their eyes out, they did -- so's they couldn't read the books wot they ain't supposed to. Now I see you's got red robes on. You got access to all the books? All of 'em, roots to branches?"

The Librarian wasn't used to being interrogated. And not by an Unkindly, born and bred to be as incurious as a stump. The experience was unnerving. "Roots to branches, yes," he repeated -- more an echo than a confirmation.

"But there's books wot you still ain't supposed to read," Grottle said.

"And I haven't," the Librarian protested. It was a lie.

"T'ain't true," Grottle drawled. One hand disappeared under his feather cloak. "Now, I ain't never had much of a talent for reading books. Brains, on the other hand -- now, there's an interesting subject."

The Librarian had just read the title. Read it off the spine. Read it in passing. It was something like, "An Entirely Infallible Directory of the Stars, and a Complete Census of the Inestimable Gulfs Between Them." And by the Inebriate, he was sure he didn't even remember it right.

He thought: I should blubber something; come up with some excuse, some defense. But he was always better at thinking than at action (the reason he became a Librarian to begin with), and the time had already passed, and it would never have worked regardless. Unkindlies weren't interested in excuses.

Grottle withdrew, face screwing up in disapproval. "Oh, don't go and *think* about what you ain't supposed to know," he said. "You'll make me have to get me own box cleaned out." A pause. "You know what comes next."

The Librarian could only say, "Yes."

"And it ain't pleasant," Grottle said. "But I'll make it as pleasant as it gets, for a tip."

The Librarian found it a surprising that he could still become indignant. "Are you asking me for a *bribe*? To kill me quick?"

"A bribe would be for me to not do my job, which would be something I ain't going to do," Grottle explained. The hand beneath the feather cloak emerged, holding a dagger with a peculiar, hooked hilt. "A tip is for me to do a little job for you on the way. Th'sharp end's for paying customers. Hook end's for the impolite."

When he arrived at the Inebriate's gate, would he be given a new name? The Librarian decided he wouldn't need it anywhere.

"Bartolemeo Hoof," the Librarian said, but then paused, considered. Then begging: "But please don't take my family name. For the Inebriate's sake, I've got a sister. She needs it too."

Grottle hooked the name out of the air with the tip of his finger, inpected it, and deposited it in his belt-pouch. "Hoof? S'a little short name, and ugly. Barely worth an apricot. Suppose as I could leave it." A pause; through the mesh eyes of the crow-mask, he watched a short flicker of relief dawn on the Librarian's narrow features. "You ready?"

"No," the Librarian said, truthfully, and touched his throat. Why were his fingers wet and red?

"Bit of advice for you," Grottle said, though the Librarian wouldn't be needing it for long. "You're never ready, when it gets there."

- Execution overheard by Merth Greenbottle while wedged between a mattress and a broken oven on the Isle of Graunt


“And Lo, the Islands did float in the junk room of the Inebriated One. And he did chuck old bits and bobs of other worlds upon it. And the years passed, and the junk did accumulate, and pile up. And Yea, as there wasn’t much else to build with, the people did use the junk as their dwelling-places, and did forge swords and all sorts of weird contraptions out of it. And the Inebriated One did think it was weird, and did stop throwing junk there.”

- Libir Inebrius 27:13

“The most abundant resource on the island is junk. The Islands are littered with pieces of ruined machinery, scrap metal, ancient contraptions of unknown origin. Maybe they’re relics from a long-ago war, or some long-lost civilization, or maybe we’re just a cosmic trash-heap like the Inebriated claim. There are ruins, too. Ancient stone statues, half-tumbled buildings. There isn’t much in the way of other materials, so people make their homes in the ruins, or in the junkyards. Sometimes the junk is piled so wide and deep that it can support whole ecosystems, villages even. Every building on the islands is cobbled together from mud, from leftovers, from scrap metal and old stone, from the bones of a hundred civilizations.”

- Morten Halfsprit

“The High Janitor held his gleaming blade to the thief’s face. A scowl scrunched under his helmet, "My job is to rid the Day of scum like you."

The mask that rested loosely on the scum's face began to slip with sweat as he raised his hands in defeat. "I-I'm s-s-sorry," he stammered.

The paladin thought for a moment, breathing heavily. Running in such heavy armor was not a piece of cake. "When dust and dirt build up on the Inebriated One's world it is my job to clean it."

"I-I c-can can be clean! I swear!" The man ripped off his mask, "I'm a changed man already!"

"You're filth. The Inebriated One demands for me to sweep you off his world," the High Janitor tightened his grip on his sword, "If I let you free you would turn back to your dirty life in an instant."

"C-come on, man," the Unkindly loosened up, he was sure he would be able to escape now, "You know that Inebriated stuff is a load of junk."

Big mistake. With one quick sweep the dirt was gone from the Junk Room.

Notes on an exhange overheard by Flon Gethheim, Librarian, while hiding in a card catalogue on the 143rd floor


"The captain's name is John Pineapple. Leastwise, it is now."

"Pineapple? Poor bloke, then, is 'e? I assume as he's giving' share of the haul?'

"No, no. Leastwise, not to deckhands. But he's promising us a dozen names each at end of the voyage -- when we're all done.Think about it. It's not just poor blokes wot mill their family names for food, but blokes with a name wot's doing them more harm than good. Rumor says 'e's a prince from out the skerries, come to Yabba Dim Day to hire a crew."

"Pfh. I got a dozen names for anyone who'd swallow a story like that. How's this: Dunderhead. Ninehammer. Fool. If he milled a king's name, 'e'd get more than a pineapple for it. An' if he's got a dozen names for ever last one of us, where'd they all go, mm? Why not now?"

"Think what you want. But if he's poor, then why'm I sporting these two fine peach-pit earrings? And ate two peaches yesterday, I might add. And why's he building a crew of fighting men, if not to reclaim his stolen throne?"

"Cor. Two peaches in a single day. Well, maybe 'e's got a tame dragon."

"Well he's not poor that way either, now is he?"

"Point taken."

- Librarian's Notes, Parrot's Head Bar. See also: "The Coronation of John Pineapple," World Tree Almanac, 54th Edition, pg. 54.

"They call us halflings, for we are only half in this world, only half human. We are the Nameless, the forgotten folk. Some of us lost our names, some were born to this life. We live in the secret places - we are the people of the labyrinth, that secret world of tunnels and basements, rooftops and the spaces in between the walls, under the floorboards.

They see us on the street and pass us by, like we have something contagious, and they're afraid they'll catch it if they're near us too long. They give us nothing from the mills, then call us thieves when we take what we need. We build our lives from the scraps of theirs, taking what they have cast aside or forgotten.

Some of us leave the Day, stow away on a ship bound for the Isles or join a pirate crew. Some become Librarians, some just look for a new life in the skerries. We are the forgotten and the unnoticed, and that can serve us as well as curse us. We know how to go unseen, how to listen, how to wait. A name gives you power, but it also binds you, ties you up. We are the Nameless, the half-folk, the forgotten. We are free."

- ...

"Have you ever seen the Flying Circus? Run by the Sky-Folk, you know. Elves, as they call 'emselves. I believe the owner is a man called Python. They're strange ones, them Elves. They spend their whole lives in their air, moving from island to island, trading mostly, or just wandering. Some live in the bigger sky-trees, building houses in their branches and floating along with the wind. 'Course, a good number of 'em are Pirates. Wouldn't expect nothin' less from a folk that never stays in one place.

Hah. 'Ave ye seen their ears? Big, curved and pointed, they are. They say it's so that they can hear the wind speak to them. Maybe that's true. Though they're prolly jus' full of it.

The Circus, though, that's somethin' to see. It's like a city in the air, held up by a thousand balloons of every color ye can think of. It's a maze of rickety wood, packed with every wonder you can imagine. Beasts from every corner of the Islands, women who spit fire, men who can twist themselves into all manner of unnatural shapes... I'll remember it te the day I die."

Dren McTaggart, Inhabitant of the Pyramids of Zuzangi


Sometimes, if a person is caught outside when a storm passes, they will be changed. They will no longer simply be the person they were, though they will have all of that person's memories: they will carry with them a piece of the storm that altered them. These people are known as the storm-born, composite entities of both elemental power and human mind. They know the languages of humans, but when they speak, they speak in a voice of thunder, and lightning lives behind their eyes.

- Grot Halfheart, on the Storm-born

“Though our more bestial cousins insist on their roaring and stamping, there is no reason that the more refined saurians should not compose a useful and integral part of Nifflian society.”

- Gustave Camembert, Raptor Philosopher.


“No-one’s sure where the Eladrin came from. It seems like they don’t reproduce, just appear from time to time in people’s closets, under their beds, sometimes even in between their walls. They say they don’t remember anything of where they came from, though they refer to it as "Backstage". With their strange black eyes, they’re often distrusted, but one appeared in my closet a couple years back, and he’s nice enough. Helps out in the bakery.”

- Nort Greenfallow, Resident of the Giant's Head

"We are the junk. It is our father and our mother. We arise from it, putting new bits of it onto ourselves and taking old pieces off, and one day return to it completely. We all arise from the same source, and though we may walk and speak, we are never apart from it. In truth, we are all One. We are moments in an enternal stream - the junk flows through us all."

Tick-Tock, Junk-Priest

“They’re strange, those junkfolk. Made out of the junk – a part of it, as we all are, I suppose. They’re all different, each made out of old springs and bits and bobs. They don’t give birth I hear. Instead, they lovingly craft their children from things they find.

In the Day Above (The part of the city above ground) Junk-folk look for artistic qualities in the use of junk. They might look for rhinestones or vendor trash that is fluidly worked into the frame of the Living Junk. Some Junkers even have stories written into their pieces, such as a line from a love poem in a circle on their finger or a Ballad of Courage on their chests.

In the Day Below the Junk folk are less worried about the fancy and artistic and are more worried about what is practical. They look for junk that can be used as shovels or to make other contraptions of an eccentric nature. They also have maps etched into their frames, or on pieces of parchment that are stuck to them. Some say that these maps show all the sectioned off areas of the Labyrinth so that the Living Junk know where to go to hide or to do whatever it is they do behind those walls.”

- Morten Halfsprit


'S a lovely place, the Junk. Ye can find most anything, if you look long and hard enough. An' sometimes ye find somthin' ye weren't lookin' for, but needed jus' the same. It gives us our homes - we tunnel into the piles, or else take pieces of it and build houses. I gather tha's why they call us Dwarves, cause we've grown to fit our home - it pays to be small when yer clamberin' around in a pile. I once saw a Dayer try to squeeze in between two gears, an' I swear, I'd pay to see it again.

It doesn't mind, I know, 'cause I've realized the same thing the Junkmen knew all along - everything on Nifflas is a part of the Junkyard. Everythin's made from somethin' used, something old. And it all goes back to the junk in the end. We take pieces of it, and rearrange 'em, or reshape 'em, but it's all the same when ye look at the big picture. It's like a cloud, forever movin' and changin', but still a cloud. And there's a joy in makin' things, in takin' old bits and bobs and makin' somethin' new out of them. An' seein' the look on a dragon's face when you punch it with the robot you're piloting... worth all the books in the Library.

'S a good life, though my boy, he seems restless. Keeps talkin' about becomin' a ship's mechanic, 'bout bein' a Librarian and explorin' the islands, ever since a few of 'em came through last month. How're you gonna keep 'em down on the Junkyard, once they've seen an airship?

- Greth Brokenwatch, Inhabitant of the Isle of Nonce

"You want to know about warlocks?" asked the baker. "Tonnas!," he called into the back room, "You remember that warlock that came by here a week ago?"

The Eladrin stuck his head into the room, "Yes, sah."

"How much did he take off with?"

"Oh, about fave or six loaves, sah. In his defense I was greatly entertained."

"Yeah, yeah. But you know what happened when I went to the mill to get me moneys worth?"

"What sah?"

"I couldn't remember a damn blasted detail of the story!" The baker turned back to the stranger, "And you know what's worse? I went around telling people my name was Sphincter for three days afterwards."

"You weren't doing that on purpose, sah?"

The baker turned back around and stared at his hired help. "What?"

"I thought you were being funny."

The tiefling retreated to the backroom as quickly as he could. The baker turned back around.

"Eh, between you and me, I'm not too mad at 'im." He snuck a look backwards and then smiled. "He still hasn't realized that he ain't wearing pants."

-Baker, on the nature of warlocks

"That's crazy. You know what happened last time they tried that?"

"Died horribly. All of them. But we won't, since we know better."

"Know better than what? The mill works, sure, but you'll never be able to use it. It ruins you, Bottleby."

"Ah, yes! But I know the trick to it, now." Pause. "I hope it won't!"
"But it'll eat that out of you. Give it a day, two days, and you won't hope it won't anymore."

"And there's the trick: I hope fervently that I'll keep hoping it won't."

"You're mad, Bottleby. I hope you know that."

"And there's the trick. I've got all these mad hopes. An infinite chain of them, all the way back to first causes; all the way back to the center of the universe. I'll never run out, because I hope for things that aren't even vaguely possible."

"Like making your fortune off of a mill that eats hope and makes -- well, what does it make, Bottleby?"

"I hope it makes biscuits."

- The Last Voyage of Godfred Bottleby, Volume I

"Go to bed now, or the Hollow Men will eat you."

"Who are the Hollow Men, mama?"

"Not who - What. They were men once, but they found something terrible, out in the far Islands, and in changed 'em. It made them hollow, just shells like a dried up old beetle husk. And it made 'em hollow inside, too, so that they're always hungry, always wanting. They're never full, and they don't just eat food. They'll eat your hopes, or your fears, eat your memories and loves and even your name, and leave your mind full of spiders."

"What if they're here right now?"

"They daren't come here, boy. I'm too old and tough and mean for 'em - one of 'em once tried to eat my mind and had to spit it right back out - too much gristle.

- My Grannie, Captain of the Pirate Ship McCoy

The books of the library are alive. They whisper to each other, and the more powerful ones can even move. Once, when I was wandering the stacks late at night, I heard the books begin to whisper with one voice, to speak as if they were a single being. It said that its name was Sussurrus… and it said other things too… secrets… which the likes of you can never know. I’ve spent my years since that night wandering the stacks, plumbing the depths of the Library, trying to find it again.

- Librarian Miskrat Greensteel Fort

"Ah. Yes. You'll be wanting Prayer Request Form 27B-6. Yes. No, no. That's the Blue one, that's 28A-7. You want the goldenrod. Right. Now, name here. Here, as well. Now I'm going to need to check all the boxes that apply. Finished? Right. Now fill the same form out again twice. Why? Well all offical forms have to be in triplicate, don't they? Right. Now we offer a special deal to all members today - raise your afterlife status for just a little extra. Wonderful. Now if you'll just fill out these forms..."

- Overheard at the Diety Information Headquarters in the Yebba Dim Day

One of the crowning achievements of Yebba Dim Day is their expansive tram system. Up in the day these mechanical carts run like clockwork, bringing people too and from their days.

But what most people don't remember is that there was a second train system, the one in the Labyrinth. It's been called the Rusted Rails, the Night Bus, or the Black Tram.

They'll carry you through the labyrinth with blinding speed. The fastest one, according to rumor, made the Kessel run (from Hobgoblin Spire on the first island to the Jut on the last) in less than twelve parsecs (roughly as long as it takes to make a bad reference).

Oh, but it's not as simple as all that. Nobody knows the schedule, not even the drivers. Most wander around, picking up passengers as they see fit, demanding what they will in payment. Some take currency, some demand favors or tokens. Some will take your name (or worse, make you take one of their's. You never know where a name has been.)

The only thing that gives any real order to the Black Trams is the Guide. However, this book is so incredibly rare that it's existence is more story than fact.

"They are driven by deformed gypsies and merchants. Kings in their own little worlds, half-loony, half-bonkers."

"But Grandpa, doesn't that mean that they're totally insane?"

"Ah, I knew you were a sharp one."

- Grot Hellbottom



Metropolitis is a disease that causes the spontaneous growth of architecture from the afflicted’s body. Thus, cities and houses grow from heads, arms become encrusted in tiny towers, etc. Occasionally, the buildings are accompanied by occupants.

The language of dragons is song, and so is their magic.

The Skerries are full of wonders, but horrible, twisted things live there too.

There is a man who says he is God. He is old, and spends most of his time in a small room, drinking tea and hiding from all the “paperwork that is coming his way”.

Below the Labyrinth, there are people who live on the bottom of the islands. They just build down from the bottom (and can fall with a missed step.) These people deny that there are any people on top of the islands, and claim anyone who says so is crazy.

Massive statues, part stone, part building, part wood and old moss, and part fur and bone dot the skerrys. Most are hollow, so temples and villages are often built inside them. Their inner surfaces are covered in mysterious writing in an unknown language.

Giant turtles are used as mounts, as are giant snails. Some are so large that grass and trees grow on their backs. Houses are often built on these larger specimens.

The Raven Queen and the Kingdom of the Cuckoos are at war.

Paper airplanes held together by stories are used for flying short distances.

The Eladrin whisper of an ancient being, who lives in the place they came from.

Sometimes, a person will disappear and be replaced by a fake, who usually appears normal but has completely black eyes and no memories of the stolen’s life.

Masks are fashionable in the Yebba Dim Day this week, as are fishbowls worn atop the head.

A traveling theatre is run by a witch called Baba Yaga, who makes patchwork dolls and animates them to perform puppet shows.

Legends speak of islands composed of a hard biscuit whose taste could drive one to tears of wonder. In ancient times of unrest, a young warlord by the name of Trohan hired a town's worth of bakers to make enough biscuits to build a small island, then set it loose to float near an enemy city he was blockading. When the starving inhabitants fell upon the feast they released the hungry creatures Trohan had concealed inside the hollow structure and were slain to the last child. These days, when someone speaks of infiltrating another's defences disguised as something they would want, one speaks of Trohan's Horrors.

Some think the Junkfolk are planning war, building Battle Machines in secret corners of the Gear Forests.

There are bands of roving philosophers who ply the Islands. Nihilists attack everything on sight, while Transhumanists graft technological enhancements to their bodies, and neo-neo-luddites are determined to incorrectly use all technology (such as wearing teapots as hats and trying to use airships as baking ovens, often to their owner's consternation).

Sources of inspiration and shameless Theft

Abarat by Clive Barker
Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Flight Edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Shadow of the Colossus
Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki
Chris Appelhans
Sean Tan
Perdido Street Station and Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

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Ramses III
Kord’s Boon

2008-10-17, 04:09 PM

2008-10-17, 05:09 PM

Have you ever read Rex Libris?

It's a pretty good comic about a librarian.

A librarian who fights Cthulhu.

This just reminded me of that for some reason.

2008-12-02, 02:17 PM

2008-12-03, 08:51 PM
Its a really interesting setting, but then what becomes of druids and rangers? And how can you manage anything non-urban with this?

2008-12-03, 10:48 PM
Its a really interesting setting, but then what becomes of druids and rangers? And how can you manage anything non-urban with this?
Well, seeing as it's 4E, Druids aren't fully out yet, and Rangers can be effortlessly reflavored to fit.

2008-12-04, 03:57 AM
Its a really interesting setting, but then what becomes of druids and rangers? And how can you manage anything non-urban with this?

The Day is a large part of the setting; being the economic and culture center of Nifflas, however there are other islands (skerries) and cities which players could visit. Some skerries are wild and could support a Druid, and as Enlong suggesting reflavoring is always an option.